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How did they rescue Tijuana? An interview with the chief of police.

Alberto Capella spoke with San Diego Red about the long road to recover the city. alexandra.mendoza@sandiegored.com

To live without fear and restore peace has been the biggest challenge of Tijuana in recent years. Although there is still much to do, municipal authorities have doubled efforts to ensure a peaceful environment to the public, and gradually, consolidate an image that stands out for its tourist attractions, cuisine, culture; these are important issues for the country's economic development. For years, Tijuana has carried the stigma of an unsafe city, but thanks to the will of its governing leaders, public participation and effective action of the police, the city has rescued its streets which were in the hands of criminals. "We are living in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility we had not enjoyed in a long time," Alberto Capella, Secretary of Public Safety in Tijuana, said in an interview to SanDiegoRed. The official highlighted the efforts made by the current administration to reduce crime in the community, especially those involving organized crime. "We have to do things the proper way each and every day, avoiding impact situations, addressing everything that has to do with criminal enforcement actions with the best punctuality". On a recent visit to San Diego, the mayor of Tijuana, Carlos Bustamante declared that from 2010 to 2011 crimes decreased 40 percent, and so far, this year has recorded a decline of 20 percent. Despite these advances, there are foreign communities who still hesitate to visit Tijuana, something that Capella is conscious about and assures that, based on results, the city will earn their trust back. "The issue of perception will change over time, it?s not something that you change with a magic wand," he said. "There's nothing like having a particular experience of visiting a city that has had a stigma as unfortunate as ours, which the city earned at that time; but as President Calderon said, "we are a nationwide example of how to rescue our streets from crime, "he added. U.S. officials like the mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, have endorsed the actions taken south of the border reaffirming that Tijuana is a safe city. Even the Tijuana Police recently received recognition from the San Diego authorities for their work in the capture of Armando Gabriel Perez, one of the most wanted killers in the County, who was arrested by the Tijuana Municipal Police in recent months. This individual was wanted since 2010 for the murder of Diana Gonzalez, a student at City College, and was arrested after an operation in downtown Tijuana in mid-February. In addition, Capella said that in the visit made by the Admiral of the U.S. Naval, Dixon R. Smith, they had an unofficial talk about removing the veto that Marines have to visit Tijuana; there?s even a possibility to make an event for them within the Revolucion Avenue in the coming months. "That was part of what was proposed informally, we talked about the possibility of a festival for the Marines here in Revolucion Avenue, I think that it will develop in the coming months," he said. For a long time there was a talk about the possibility of creating a Metropolitan Tourist Police, a project that was supported by the Mayors of Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada in 2010. Although the initiative has not materialized, the Secretary of Security said that the efforts are ongoing to ensure peace to all visitors who tour from Tijuana to the Ensenada port. "We're not sitting back, we are creating our own scheme of tourist police, trying to modernize it, collaborating with the governments of Ensenada and Rosarito," said Capella Ibarra. "The project has not materialized yet, but we will not wait, we?ll be ready by the time it starts developing, but for now, we are doing our part," he said. alexandra.mendoza@sandiegored.com Original Text : Alexandra Mendoza Translation : Daniel Blanco

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